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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Council Pushes Ambitious Recycling Plan

posted by on June 21 at 13:42 PM

In addition to rejecting Mayor Greg Nickels’s proposal to build a third trash transfer station in Georgetown, the city council outlined an ambitious plan (spearheaded by Richard Conlin) to get citizens and businesses to recycle 70 percent of the city’s solid waste by 2025, with an eventual goal of 100 percent recycling. One good thing about the plan is that it expands organics and solid-waste pickup service to multi-family buildings, whose occupants have previously had to throw compostable or recyclable food and yard waste in the trash. The proposal also includes plans to give companies incentives to recycle construction and demolition waste, and possible curbside pickups for recyclable electronics (like old TVs and computers). Also on the table: A possible ban of Styrofoam containers and non-compostable plastic bags, both of which I wholeheartedly applaud.

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How would the ban on styrofoam and non-compostable plastic work? Do they mean banning it from the trash, or banning the sale of it in Seattle so that it would be less likely to end up in Seattle's landfills?

Posted by Matt from Denver | June 21, 2007 1:51 PM

Very cool. On plastic bags: hopefully we'll be joining our British cousins in at least pricing them. It seems like a good solution. You can still get them if you want them, but there's no incentive to use more than you need.

Posted by Patrick | June 21, 2007 1:55 PM

Hey yeah, Matt from Denver has a good question. What would the ban look like...?

Posted by Phenics | June 21, 2007 2:09 PM

Why recycle electronics when you can just toss them in traffic circles?

Posted by j | June 21, 2007 2:10 PM

You got that one pegged J

Call it "found art"...

Posted by ecce homo | June 21, 2007 2:15 PM

I'm pretty sure they'd be banned from sale in city limits.

Posted by ECB | June 21, 2007 2:18 PM

ECB @ 6, that's good because banning it from the garbage would probably be impossible to enforce.

Posted by Matt from Denver | June 21, 2007 2:21 PM

My favorite part of this year's Solstice parade was the anti-Styrofoam group that left a wake of crushed up Styrofoam pieces all along the street... that spectators had to pick up and throw away. Good job, guys.

It did get me angry about Styrofoam, though.

Posted by JC | June 21, 2007 2:57 PM

Yes - banned from sale, takeout, etc. We'd be joining Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley:

Posted by Jez | June 21, 2007 3:00 PM

Why not just fine companies that use them and sell them - and use those fines to pay for the collection?

That would be simpler.

Less packaging means less cost to vendor, means direct market signal to both supplier and consumer.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 21, 2007 3:27 PM

The leadership and hard work brought about by 4 scrappy Georgetown residents will change the way we live in Seattle...thank you Kathy, Holly, Joel and Joanne.

Posted by yahbaby | June 21, 2007 3:37 PM

The leadership and hard work brought about by 4 scrappy Georgetown residents will change the way we live in Seattle...thank you Kathy, Holly, Joel and Joanne.

Posted by yahbaby | June 21, 2007 3:39 PM

The ban on styrofoam containers is a no brainer, and way over due.

I also really like the idea of electronics recycling. I wouldn't even mind a fee for it. Right now it is a major chore to recycle computer components, even if you want to. It is far easier to just toss it, even if that isn't legal. Anything the city or county can do to make electronics recycling easier would be fantastic.

Posted by SDA in SEA | June 21, 2007 3:45 PM

Why are plastic bags bad, but no one wants to ban paper bags, which use more energy to produce, contribute to the loss of native forest cover, and degrade in the landfill just as slowly as plastic (i.e., not at all)?

Posted by Fnarf | June 21, 2007 3:53 PM

Is Jean Godden recyclable?

Posted by DOUG. | June 21, 2007 3:54 PM

@ 11: absolutely! it was heartening to see the folks of georgetown really prove what community can be about.

their activism and determination to fight that transfer station is impressive. i can't imagine that their efforts went unnoticed and surely must have played a role in the council's decision.

Posted by kerri harrop | June 21, 2007 4:00 PM

Hats off to GT for making this a city-wide issue. They are a force to be reckoned with!

Posted by SP | June 21, 2007 4:50 PM

Fnarf: Paper can compost, plastic can't. They're not equally biodegradable at all. You are right when you talk about resources- plastic can be more efficiently and less wastefully produced than paper.

But if we know that grocery bags will end up in landfills, it's preferable that they be paper. If both were guaranteed to end up in recycling plants exclusively, both can be considered of equal value- plastic may in fact be less wasteful than paper if recycled (as you stated). But paper is far superior to plastic when it comes to composting.

What they should do if they want to get serious is ban grocery/shopping bags altogether and require customers to bring their own reusable bags.

Posted by Jay | June 21, 2007 5:15 PM

For the record, people living in multi-family dwellings are already able to compost via the yard waste service as long as the building has yard waste service. If it does not, then the building owner/manager can call solid waste and talk to someone about setting up the service for a few bucks a month (I think it's as cheap for buildings as it is for homes). The sticking point is that solid waste needs to work with each interested multi-family building individually to tailor the service (pick-up frequency, size of bin/dumpster) which is not very effective.

So I wonder if the new program will REQUIRE yard waste/compost in apartment buildings (and how much it will cost) or offer it as an option (which it already is). Also, how much will it cost?

Posted by Charlie | June 21, 2007 5:21 PM

Not sure if I was clear enough, but for the record, I think this is a great idea regardless of the price..... just didn't want to be yelled for no good reason.

Posted by Charlie | June 21, 2007 5:24 PM

We are totally going to need bigger recycling bins, then. Two of us in this house more than fill the bin every two weeks. We compost, too, and still we run out of bin space.

That, or weekly or biweekly pickups.

The electronics recycling thing is key. I'd love that. I have had seven computers lying around in my basement for years because I keep not getting around to taking them to hazmat or recycling.

With all the fluorescent bulbs we use now, too, it'd be nice to have more convenient recycling for those, too. (Contain mercury.)

In Sweden, you pay for the recycling cost at the time of purchase for electronic items and they require sellers of such items to accept recyclables. We ought to do that here, too.

Posted by ebsur | June 21, 2007 5:28 PM

@21 - I totally agree about CFL recycling. We need to have CONVENIENT PICKUP FOR COMPACT FLOURESCENT LIGHTBULBS!

I've got a bag of them under my sink. Danged if I'm going to drive 5 miles just to turn those in.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 21, 2007 6:02 PM

Jay, paper can compost, but not in a landfill. Nothing composts in a landfill except the wettest of the wet. Urban archaeologists dig down in landfills and pull out perfectly preserved thirty-year-old newspapers -- preserved better than if they were stacked in your basement. In the absence of light and moisture, decomposition never takes place at all. Paper bags last just as long as plastic ones.

Paper bags that go in the yard waste, with the food scraps, on the other hand, are aggressively wetted and composted.

Posted by Fnarf | June 21, 2007 7:06 PM

@ 21

Two people fill an entire recycle bin in just two weeks?

Seven computers in 'deep storage'?

Dude, you need to learn how to curb your consumption addiction.

No wonder there's a garbage problem.

Posted by old timer | June 22, 2007 8:13 AM

Um, I think I have the same as @21 does, @24.

At least mine goes in the recycle bin and not the garbage - usually our garbage can is 90 percent empty. Most of that is probably food waste.

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